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True Grace (1 Peter Bible Study)

True Grace Coffee

Are you looking for a resource or plan for Bible Study for this summer?  If so, I have one more option for you to consider.  At Wildwood Community Church from June 7 – August 9, 2015, I will be preaching a sermon series based on the book of 1 Peter entitled “True Grace.”  In addition to the sermons, I have written a 119 page Bible Study guide to accompany this series.  For each week of the sermon series, there are six days of guided study on the section of 1 Peter we are looking at for that week.  Then, on the seventh day (Sunday), I will be preaching on that section.  Therefore, if you are going to study along with this, you can begin week one on Monday, June 1.

 

You can access this study in a variety of ways:

 

My hope and prayer is that through these resources we will all come to a greater understanding of who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for us, so that we would have faith, hope and love as we live out our lives in hostile territory.  If you end up using this study, please let me know!
In Christ,

Mark Robinson

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True Grace Video Teaser

Beginning Sunday, June 7, I am starting a new sermon series at Wildwood Community Church entitled “True Grace.”  This 10 week series will take us through the book of 1 Peter.  We recently filmed a short “teaser” for this series, and you can see this video below.

If you are in Norman this summer, make plans to join us at 9:30 or 10:50 beginning June 7!  If you are outside of Norman this summer, check back to this blog often for more resources related to this series.

 

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True Grace Preview

Rooster CogburnTom Chaney was a scoundrel of a man, wanted for murder in two states and on the run in the Indian territory.  Mattie Ross (the surviving daughter of one of Chaney’s victims) was determined to avenge her father’s murder; but before Chaney could be prosecuted, he had to be found . . . something that would prove difficult to accomplish against the backdrop of eastern Oklahoma pre-statehood.

To assist her in her search for Chaney, Mattie recruits an aging U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn.  In the words of a local deputy, Rooster was “double tough — fear don’t enter his thinking.”  Mattie knew he was the man for her job.  Cogburn was a man of true grit . . . able to stand when others would fall, and such a man would be necessary to survive in hostile territory against a ruthless foe.

So goes the plot of the 1969 Academy Award winning movie “True Grit” starring John Wayne.  The characters and plot of this story have allowed it to outlive its era — spawning a sequel as well as a remake (2010’s True Grit directed by the Cohen brothers).  Both Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn are true protagonists, pressing forward where others do not.  We are attracted to their true grit.  As people who live in hostile environments of our own, we are inspired by their courage.

As intriguing as their story is, however, it ultimately is powerless to help us overcome the challenges we face in life.  Our world is increasingly disrespectful of God’s laws and antagonistic towards God’s people.  Disease, death, and discouragement are three outlaws who track us down on an all too frequent basis.  Where can we find the grit to stand in this hostile territory?

Our dilemma is not new.  From the very beginning, Jesus was preparing His followers for how to stand in a hostile land.  Jesus actually provides the way for people to not just survive but thrive, not just endure but rejoice, not be defeated but have hope.  His grace gives us the grit we need.

The Apostle Peter wrote a letter in 64 CE to a collection of Christians scattered across modern day Turkey to instruct them on how to stand in hostile territory.  Peter informs them (and us, as God preserved this letter for us to read today) of the “true grace of God” that we would “stand firm in it” (1 Peter 5:12).  This “True Grace” that gives the grit to stand in hostile territory is the subject of the book of 1 Peter.

Over the next 10 weeks, we will be walking through this short letter together seeing how the true grace of God provides hope and harmony (1:1-2:10), love and service (2:11-4:11), and leadership and life (4:12-5:11).  Join us through the sermon series at Wildwood Community Church (June 7 – August 9) as we explore these themes and see God’s truth for us.  Also, check back to this blog daily beginning June 1 (or subscribe in the side column) to receive personal and small group Bible Study prompts to help guide us toward a better understanding and application of these truths.  Finally, join me in praying that we would all embrace the “True Grace” of God that we would stand firm in it.

If your hope has been murdered, or your joy is on the run, allow Jesus to heal your soul.  He is the Son of Man with True Grace for our every need.

Twice Baked Adolescence

Adolescence.  We have all been through it.  You know, the time when you have lived through nothing but know everything?  The time when you have more pimples than purpose?  The time when you have more recreation than responsibility?  The time when your parents were clueless and your peers were crafty?  Yeah, you know the time.  We all lived through it.  In fact, I think we have all lived through it twice.

Twice?  Are you serious?  What kind of a cruel joke would it be to make someone relive 13-16 again?  I mean seriously . . . there are many moments from those years I wish I could just cover with white out and move on.  Why would anyone want to live through those years again?  When I say we have lived through adolescence twice, I do not mean that we have grown up physically twice . . . but I do mean that as “born again” Christians, we have gone through a second “spiritual adolescence” at some point in our lives.

Spiritual adolescence.  We have all been through it.  You know, the time when you lived through very little spiritually speaking, but know everything?  The time when you have more opinions than wisdom?  The time when those who walked with God for many years have “lost their fire” (in your estimation) while your campus group is the only one who is “doing the Christian life right?”  Yeah, you know the time.  If we are honest and self-aware enough, most of us have gone through a phase of our Christian life where we thought we knew it all.  In 1995 that was me.  Today, 15 years later, I am amazed at what I do not know.  God, the Christian life, and ministry are simply too big to be totally figured out on a weekend retreat.  It takes a moment for someone to become a Christian, but it takes time and experience to go from a spiritual babe to a man or woman of God.

I was thinking about that today as I read 1 Peter 5:5.  Peter encourages all young people in these verses to “be submissive to those who are older.”  What is Peter getting at here?  Is he indicating that old people are more righteous than young people?  No, in Christ all are declared righteous and totally forgiven of their sins.  Is he indicating that old people are more valuable?  No, Jesus died for all people . . . no one is more valuable than anyone else.  Peter writes to the early church and encourages its younger members to be submissive to its older members because there is wisdom with age.  This wisdom cannot be learned through reading books alone, it is learned on the pages of real life.  Walking with God while living life creates a depth of character, wisdom, and insight that cannot be microwaved.  Because of this truth, Peter wants young people to submit to those who are further along than them because they have wisdom that young people need.

Like a teenager who learns how wise their parents were (after he turns 26), so “adolescent” believers learn how wise their elders are after they have weathered a few storms of their own.

I am writing this letter today as someone who sits squarely between two worlds.  Around many in the church, I am the young guy . . . a nearly 37 year old dude who has yet to figure a lot of stuff out.  Around youth and college students (much to my chagrin) I am becoming one of the old guys . . . having lived through enough decades to have a different perspective than just a twitter account and a facebook page.  Being in this place gives me reason to apply this passage in two directions.  If you are a “young person” be careful to not fall into the trap that “you are the only one doing it right.”  Clothe yourself with humility and listen to the perspective of those further along than you.  If you are an “elder,” live a life that is worthy of respect.  Don’t just place your life in cruise control and coast into apathy.  Continue to walk with God and trust Him on a daily basis.  Be willing to share your life experience with younger men and women so that they can learn from the wisdom God has taught you over years of living.

Let’s all age well in the Lord together.  After all adolescence is hard to go through . . . both times.

Discussion Questions: 1 Peter 5:5-14

  1. After talking to the Elders in the church, Peter now turns and addresses the younger men.  Literally, in the original language, this passage does not address just young men, but “young people (men and women).”  From what you can tell in 5:5-7 what is a chief problem for young people? (i.e. What do young people struggle with that Peter’s prescription here will help cure?)  Why do you think young people struggle with this?
  2. In 5:5b, Peter talks about people “clothing themselves with humility.”  The word translated “clothe” is a little used Greek word that refers to a servant’s outer apron that they might wear over their clothing.  Given this, what do you think it means to “clothe yourself with humility?”
  3. What are some of the reasons given here for why someone would humble themselves?  What would it look like for you to live a humble life?
  4. If you are young, what would it look like to be submissive to those who are older than you?
  5. In 5:8-9, Peter turns and instructs the believer on Satan.  What does Peter say about Satan?  How does he instruct us to respond in light of who Satan is?  What would that look like for you?
  6. 5:10-12 is a fitting end to this epistle.  Peter concludes his letter by reminding believers of the character of their God and of their future blessings in Christ.  After studying the book of 1 Peter the past several weeks, what kinds of applications do you take from this book as you live out your Christian lives today?

1997


Some interesting observations on the year 1997:


  • The Dow Jones Industrial Index passed the 7,000 point mark for the first time ever.  That level sounds like the poverty line in today’s economy, but was an early sign of the .com boom in ’97.
  • Steve Jobs came back as the CEO of Apple computers.  At the time, Apple was in big trouble.  Thinking that the Mac was circling the drain, Microsoft invested $150 million in the company.  Today Apple is on the rise . . . I wonder if Microsoft regrets that decision?
  • William Jefferson Clinton is sworn in for his second term as President of the United States.  Yes, Americans still believed in a little place called Hope.
  • In the first sign that hell might actually freeze over, the Florida Marlins won their first World Series.  As someone who is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, I need to point out that the Marlins have now won two titles in the last decade, while the Chicago Cubs have won zero titles in the last century.
  • The movie “Titanic” was released.  This James Cameron production would end up being the highest grossing movie of all time until Cameron’s “Avatar” would set the new mark just a few months ago.

Personally, 1997 was a significant year for me for another reason.  In May of 1997, I took my first paid ministry position as the Youth Pastor at Ovilla United Methodist Church in Ovilla, Texas.  At the time, I had 23 years of life and 9 months of seminary under my belt, so of course I was an “expert.”  In all actuality, I was running scared.  Now, 13 years later, I have been at this for a while.  My job responsibilities and churches have changed over the years, but the basic gist of my job has not changed:  to Pastor a segment of God’s flock.

This week, I have been reading 1 Peter 5:1-4 – verses written as a charge to leadership in the local church.  When you do anything for a long period of time you run the risk of falling into ruts and patterns of behavior that may be good, or may be bad.  As I read these verses today, I was challenged to reconsider the basic definitions of my role as “Pastor” and to ponder the implications of these verses for all who seek to serve Christ in His Church.  The verses say this, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:  Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

Some interesting (and challenging observations) from these verses:

  • “I appeal as a fellow elder.” Peter was writing this letter to a group of churches that were scattered around modern day Turkey.  It is most probable that Peter was the only one of the original Apostles who would have even seen this letter.  In that regard, it is remarkable that Peter does not approach the leaders of these small churches and say, “Listen to me . . . I am an Apostle.  I am Peter.  I saw Jesus.  Do what I say!”  Instead, he comes to them humbly and says, “Brothers, we are colleagues and co-laborers pulling in the same direction for Christ.  Let’s talk this thing through together.”  What humility!  May this kind of humility flow forth from the lives of all of the leadership in Christ’s church.
  • “God’s flock that is under your care.” Peter was reminding all of them that the church was not Mark’s church or Bruce’s church or John’s church . . . it was Christ’s church.  This is a very important thing for all Pastors and church leaders to remember.  The church exists for God, not for any particular leader.  Leaders have a responsibility to care for the people in their “flock” but they are to care for them according to God’s agenda and for His glory.  Sadly, some churches become more known for their celebrity Pastor than for their risen Savior.  May that not be the case.
  • “Not because you must but because you are willing.” God has graciously called me into ministry.  He has invited me to serve in His church.  After this invitation was extended, I could either say “yes” or “no.”  I am not serving at Wildwood because God is holding me captive here.  It is an everyday choice to say “yes” to God’s gracious offer.  The moment I begin serving under compulsion is the moment I begin to die as a true Shepherd of God’s flock.
  • “Not greedy for money but eager to serve.” There are hundreds of ways to make a living in this world.  No one should be in ministry “for the money.”  This sounds like the punchline to a joke because pastor’s salaries are famously small (Wildwood does a great job of providing for our staff . . . I am speaking of general perceptions).  However, it is possible for church staff to see themselves as “professionals” and not “pastors.”  As John Piper has said in his book, “Brothers We Are Not Professionals,” this should not be the case.  Our paychecks should not influence our love for people or our service in the Body.
  • “Not lording it over those entrusted to you but being an example.” Pastors don’t just tell people where the truth is, they live it out and tell others to “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  I should never apply a passage for others that I am not willing to apply myself.  If the spiritual life of the Pastor is growing, you will probably find a vibrant congregation that is following his example.  The first priority of the Pastor should be to walk with God.
  • “You will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” Peter concludes this passage by reminding all church leaders of the reward that awaits in eternity for those who faithfully shepherd’s God’s flock today.  Serving Him is worth it.

13 years later, the reminders of 1 Peter 5 help me to remember what it means to shepherd the people of God.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to do that each day.

Discussion Questions: 1 Peter 5:1-4

  1. In these four verses, Peter gives some direct teaching toward “elders” in the church.  From your experience and what you have read in other places in the Scripture, what is an Elder?  (For help, you may want to read 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, Acts 20:13-38)
  2. According to 1 Peter 5:1-4, what are some of the characteristics of a good Elder?
  3. Peter begins in 5:1 by appealing to them as “one of them.”  This is an interesting thing for him to say because Peter was most likely the only one in these churches who had seen Christ face to face.  He certainly was the only one in these churches who carried the title of “Apostle.”  As Peter approaches them, however, he comes as a co-laborer, not as someone who was “higher and holier” than they were.  What does this tell you about the nature of Christian leadership in the church?
  4. 5:2 reminds the leaders in the churches that all the people (i.e. the flock) are God’s, not theirs.  This is an extremely important reminder.  What would be some of the implications if Christian leaders viewed their congregations as “theirs” not God’s?
  5. In 5:2b-3, Peter shares a series of contrasts that should mark the Christian leader in the church.  The leader is to serve willingly, not under compulsion.  Paul Cedar says of this statement, “I have counseled with many pastors who . . . feel that they are imprisoned by their calling to ministry.  They would prefer to be somewhere else, they are not enjoying their ministry, or they are in a difficult situation from which they would like to escape.  To them, ministry has become mere drudgery.  It need not be so!  Peter reminds us that we should serve the Lord and tend His flock willingly . . . The Lord does not force us or coerce us to be involved in ministry.  He calls us and invites us to ministry, but we have the freedom of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’!”  Many of you reading these questions are not serving as Pastors or Elders of churches, but most of you reading this are SERVING in some capacity in the church.  If leaders are supposed to lead willingly, how much more should this principle apply to those who are serving in other ways (beside leadership)?  How does this truth impact you as it pertains to serving in the church?
  6. Another of the commands in 5:2 is that the Elder is to serve enthusiastically, not just for selfish gain (monetary gain).  While this certainly applies to church staff who serve as Pastors merely for the paycheck, it also could apply to anyone who serves just for their own selfish gain (i.e. so that people will applaud them or they would have a position of influence.)  As you serve or lead, are you serving enthusiastically the needs of others, or are you serving merely to receive the “paycheck” of affirmation or influence?
  7. A third command comes in 5:3 as Elders are instructed to be an example, not a domineering leader.  In what ways does the life of a leader (their example) back up and support their message?  In what ways is your “message” supported by your life?
  8. Finally, this passage concludes with a promise of a crown of glory when Jesus returns to those who serve faithfully in the church.  How does knowing that there is a future reward motivate you to serve in Christ’s Church today?

Showing Your Colors

Big Tex towering above the Texas State Fair in Dallas

Located about five minutes southeast of downtown Dallas stands a large plastic man.  Big Tex is his name.  Every fall he welcomes hundreds of thousands of people to the Texas State Fair.  The State Fair attracts a diverse audience:  moms and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends, high schoolers and those who are just plain high, and everyone in between.  On one Saturday each year in early October, however, Big Tex says “Howdy” to a whole different breed.  In College Football’s equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys, the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns square off in the shadow of Big Tex on the hallowed grounds of the Cotton Bowl.

Three times in my life, I have been lucky enough to attend this game, and it is an experience that I will never forget.  Each time I have gone to the game, I have been amazed at the contrast of colors.  The Cotton Bowl seats more than 80,000 people.  In a unique twist, exactly 40,000 of these people are wearing Sooner Crimson, and the other 40,000 are wearing Bevo Burnt Orange.  These obvious colors make it easy for all to identify your allegiance as you wander through the State Fair eating corn dogs and waiting for the start of the game.

In my opinion, still the single greatest play in the history of the OU/Texas game.

I have been to three OU/Texas games.  As an OU graduate, I (of course) am cheering for the Sooners.  In my three trips to the Cotton Bowl, I have truly seen it all both on and off the field.  On the field, the Sooners are 1-1-1 (one win, one loss, and one tie) when I have seen the game live.  Off the field, I have celebrated the win with those garbed in red, and been ridiculed by those in orange after a Sooner defeat.  In both cases, my affiliation with the Sooners was the reason for my celebration or suffering.

I was thinking about this experience today as I read 1 Peter 4:12-19.  These verses conclude a lengthy section of 1 Peter dealing with the suffering a Christian undergoes because of their faith in Christ.  As he wraps up this section, in 1 Peter 4:12, Peter wants all believers to not think that “something strange” was happening to them if they were experiencing persecution for their faith.  Peter writes to let them know that persecution for the Christian was to be expected.  As they lived out their spiritual lives in a hostile world wearing the colors of Christ, they should expect some suffering.

In 4:13-16 Peter says this, “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. . . if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”  In these verses, Peter is reminding Christians that they wear on their bodies the colors of Christ.  Everyone who passes around them knows that they are followers of Jesus.  Because of that, they will share in the fate of Christ.  In this life, Jesus was booed and beaten, mocked and marked, chided and crucified.  If that is how the world treated Christ, then it should come as no surprise when the world treats you in this way.  Because of my OU sweatshirt at the OU/Texas game, I was mocked by Texas fans.  Because of my faith in Christ, I may be mocked by those who do not know Christ.  In both cases they are not really rejecting me as much as they are rejecting the One whose Name I bear.

In the midst of this sobering declaration, however, Peter invites Christians to rejoice.  Why would Christians rejoice at the notion that they will be persecuted?  The reason is simple.  Just as my OU shirt brought me ridicule in defeat, so my OU shirt brought me celebration in victory.  In a similar way, our affiliation with Christ may cause us to be beaten down in the present, but that same affiliation with Christ will allow us to be with Him in His exaltation in the future. Because we are robed in His colors we get to celebrate His victory!  That is reason to rejoice.

So the next time you experience difficulty because of your faith in Christ.  Remember you are wearing His colors.  Our affiliation with Him is the reason for our temporary suffering and our eternal celebration.

Discussion Questions: 1 Peter 4:12-19

  1. Comparing the New International Version (NIV) to the New American Standard Bible (NASB) or English Standard Version (ESV) translation of 1 Peter 4:12 leads to some confusion.  In the NIV, the verse is translated, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”  By comparison, the NASB (the ESV is similar) says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”  While I generally love the NIV, the original language is far better represented in the NASB translation of this passage.  Peter’s original intent in this verse seems to be to remind Christians of a purpose for their suffering.  As people suffer for their faith in Christ, Peter sees them being tested and refined.  As a fire is used to melt down metals to remove their impurities, so it seems that the fiery trials of our lives are intended by God to refine us of our impurities.  In what way does suffering help refine the Christian?  Have you ever experienced this in your life?
  2. In 4:13 Christians are instructed to rejoice as they suffer for their faith in Christ.  This is a very humbling command.  From a strictly human perspective, this command seems utterly impossible.  Based on this passage (and the rest of your understanding of Scripture) why would a Christian have reason to rejoice when suffering because of their faith in Christ?
  3. From 4:13-16 a rationale is provided for why Christians can rejoice in the midst of suffering.  When a person places their faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them, giving their lives a foretaste of the glory of God.  As Christians live out their lives in the secular world around them, not everyone will see this Spirit aroma of the “glory of God” as a positive thing.  In fact many non-Christians will react strongly against it and seek to persecute the Christian, just as the secular world persecuted Jesus Christ because of His radical fidelity to God’s mission and the glory of God that emanated from His Spirit.  Therefore, Christians who are persecuted because of their faith are being identified as “Christ-like” by the unbelieving world.  Therefore, it is an honor to suffer at the hands of unbelievers because it means that they see Christ in you.  Further, if the Christian is affiliated with Christ in His suffering during their temporal life, then the Christian can be confident that he will also get to share in Christ’s exaltation in their eternal life.  After His physical death, Jesus was raised and exalted.  In the same way, Christians share in this future hope of being exalted with Christ.  Therefore, Christians rejoice in the midst of being persecuted because it reminds them of whose they are and where they are headed.  Does this truth help to encourage you as you are persecuted for your faith in Christ?  Why or why not?
  4. 4:17-18 give us another reason for rejoicing in the midst of suffering.  God allows His children to suffer now, but has no condemnation for them in eternity.  By contrast, unbelievers may seem to have the upper hand now, but will experience great distress and judgment in eternity.  The believer can take heart that they will leave suffering behind in this life while the unbeliever (by measure of degree) has not even yet begun to know what true suffering is.  Knowing this truth, are you motivated to share Christ boldly with unbelievers around you, knowing that eternal judgment awaits in the after-life for those who do not trust in Christ now?  Who is one non-Christian person God might want you to share the truth about Christ with right now?  When will you talk with them?  What truth might you share with them?  How do you anticipate they will react?
  5. 1 Peter 4:19 provides a final summary command to this entire section of Peter’s letter, tracking all the way back to 2:13.  In this whole section Peter has been talking about how believers should live out distinctive lifestyles while they endure persecution for their faith.  4:19 indicates that believers should demonstrate their trust in God by continuing to do good in the midst of difficulty.  What about our God allows us to have confidence that we can trust Him in the midst of our difficulty?  What is the connection with “committing ourselves to the Creator” and “continuing to do good?”

Arm Yourself . . . Slippery When Wet

For just a moment, I want to invite you to do the impossible:  get inside the mind of a freshman in high school.  Think back to this fascinating era of your life and try to remember what you were thinking about . . . what mattered to you . . . who mattered to you.  This afternoon, I journeyed into my own personal adolescent abyss, and what I saw was not pretty.

When I was 15 years old, life was simple.  Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” was the greatest album ever recorded, “Hoosiers” was the greatest movie ever made, and my greatest goal in life was for my hair to stick out the back of my football helmet so friends and family could see how “good” it looked during games.

For those of you who know me now, two of those three statements make perfect sense.  Just last week I heard “Livin’ on a Prayer” being played over the loudspeaker at our staff lunch, and I proceeded to announce that it “just didn’t get any better than that.”  Also, I still stand and cheer at the thought of Coach Norman Dale running the “picket fence” to free up Jimmy Chitwood to hit the state championship clenching shot (still a top 5 cinematic moment IMHO).  Though some things stay the same, others change drastically.  For going on 20 years now, I have not let my hair get longer than an inch in any direction, but in 1988 I was all about the mullet (business up top with a party in the back).  I had made this my goal the previous year when I saw how “cool” the varsity quarterback looked with his long-haired ‘do.  When we took the field for two-a-days that summer, indeed I had curly locks hanging out the back of my helmet.

Jimmy Chitwood expresses confidence to his coach before hitting the game winning shot in the movie "Hoosiers"

For my adolescent mind, having that hair was part of the reason to even go out for football.  Sure, I liked the game, but I loved the look.  As anyone who has ever played football knows, though, the helmet is far more than a piece of eye candy.  More than an accessory, it is a life-saving device.  Playing football without a helmet is about as safe as surfing in a hurricane . . . do it long enough and your life won’t be so long!  Therefore, before each practice I would arm myself with that helmet and head “into battle.”

In 1 Peter 4:1, Peter invites all of us into the victorious Christian mind.  The mindset found here is not original – it is borrowed from Jesus Christ Himself.  Though He experienced persecution and struggle in His earthly life, Jesus maintained a life of perfect and total obedience to the will of God.  Jesus did not fear what the world wanted Him to fear (1 Peter 3:14), but instead sought to obey God at all costs.  Though it would eventually cost Him His earthly life, God would glorify Jesus and lift Him up, placing Him in authority over all things (3:22).  This mindset of following God regardless of the cost, trusting for God’s greater reward is the mindset Christians are to “arm” themselves with today.

1 Peter 4:1 says this, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”  In the first half of that verse, believers are called to “arm” themselves with the attitude of Christ as they seek to live a holy life.  The word “arm” in the original language is used only here in the entire New Testament.  Outside the New Testament, this word was used to refer to a soldier putting on their armor for battle.  It is not advisable for a football player to play the game without being “armed” with their helmet.  In the same way, it is not advisable for a Christian to try to live a holy life without “arming” themselves with Christ’s attitude.  Jesus knew there would be opposition to His radical obedience to His heavenly Father, but He persisted in obedience anyway, trusting that God would provide a greater reward.  If Christians are to stand a chance today at living a life honoring to God, they must strap on this same perspective.

Our greatest hopes as Christians at times revolve around seeing victory in some area of weakness.  For some this means finally being free from an addiction to pornography.  For others it means resting in their beauty in Christ, instead of their waist size.  For still others it means being more generous with the money and resources at their disposal.  When confronted with these issues (and many others) our great desire is to see obedience show forth from our lives.  What this passage reminds us of, though, is that one of the keys to obedience is to arm ourselves with the mindset of Jesus as we seek to obey.  Far more than just a mental accessory, arming ourselves in this mindset is essential to our survival in obedience.  When we have strapped on His attitude, then our obedience flows out from underneath for all to see.

In many areas of the Christian life, obeying Christ will not lead to an immediate improvement in circumstances.  In the short-run, following Christ might lead to short-circuiting a carnal desire.  If our mindset is anchored only in the moment, then many times we lack the necessary perspective to take the self-denying step into obedience.  However, when we are armed with the long-term attitude of Christ, we can deny ourselves in the moment knowing that God is being honored as we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven.